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Will you still eat out?

mumbai Updated: Dec 08, 2009 01:30 IST
Naresh Kamath
Will you still eat out?

Planning to go out for dinner tonight? Hotels and restaurants in the city are working on a 25 per cent hike in prices on their menus from next week.

The decision was taken by the Association of Hotels and Restaurants (AHAR), the apex body representing over 6,000 eateries across the city.

AHAR says rates of most food ingredients have increased by 20 per cent in the last two months and almost 40 per cent compared to last year.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, Chandrahas Shetty, former AHAR president and advisor, said the hike is inevitable. “Prices of all ingredients, especially vegetables and pulses, have increased by a wide margin, and we’re running the business with great difficulty,” he said. “We see no chance of these prices reducing, so we’re left with no option,” he added.

Urad dal, he said, costs Rs 75 per kg this month, compared to Rs 54 in September. Moong Dal is at Rs 84 per kg compared to Rs 81 in September. Sugar costs Rs 35-39 compared to Rs 32 in September.

All of which is bad news for diners. “This city is already so expensive to live in; the hike will make things worse,” said Ismail Shaikh (28), who runs a cellphone business at Sion. But he admits AHAR doesn’t have much of a choice, and agrees that food ingredients have in fact become more expensive.

There is a small window of hope for consumers like Shaikh. A separate group of hoteliers, the Disha Hotel Association – which has 500 members – has opposed the hike. “It is unfair to burden consumers who are already having a hard time,” said Shailesh Shetty, president, Disha. He said the hotel industry should focus on fighting unrealistically high taxes instead of hiking menu rates.

Arvind Singh (45), who works in a shipping firm at Nariman Point, worried his budget just got squeezed tighter. “I will have to bring food from home or maybe I might have to switch to street food,” said Singh.